Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Conjunctions Tribute for Creeley 

In honor of the life and work of Robert Creeley,
Conjunctions is posting tributes, remembrances, anecdotes, stories, poems, lamentations,and
thoughts as a living memorial to the man and poet.

Here is my post to Conjunctions on Creeley:

Last April 2004 I wrote about Robert Creeley's frank and robust collection, If I were writing this. The book is a moving engagement with friends, family (persons he has loved - both dead and alive), and fragments of literature as it lives on through more literature. Though elegiac in mode, the book is affirming in Creeley’s onward “do not go gently” way. At their most stirring there is an inviting gusto in the poems. In "Supper," for instance, Creeley writes:

Days on the way,
lawn's like a shorn head
and all the chairs are put away
again. Shovel it in.
Eat for strength, for health.
Eat for the hell of it, for
yourself, for country and your mother.
Eat what your little brother didn't.
Be content with your lot
and all you got.
Be whatever they want.
Shovel it in.

At the time I was reading the collection, I found a passage from the introduction to Selected Writings of Charles Olson. Here Creeley writes: "We are not here involved with existentialism. Camus may speak of a world without appeal, but the system of discourse he makes use of is still demonstrably a closed one. What he seems most despairing about is that language cannot make sense of the world, that logic and classification do not lead to conclusions and value - but open only to the dilemma of experience itself." For Creeley, physical experience offers its own guide for the perplexed. As he puts it toward the end of "Conversion to Her":

One cannot say, Be as women,
be peaceful, then. The hole from
which we came
isn't metaphysical.
The one to which we go is real.

--Tom Devaney

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